Carys Weldon Blog
Sunday, January 07, 2007
meeting with others
Some bird is outside my door/window/whatever--sounds more like a chipmunk or a monkey than a bird, the way it is chattering. For some reason, it reminds me of other writers.
I had an email discussion yesterday with a writer in St. Louis who is very professional. She makes a fair living off of her writing, and does regular magazine articles. We chatted at length about writing groups in the midwest region where we live. She's invited me to a very tight little group up in STL. I can't afford to make the regular drive at the moment, but I'd love to go.
I know that many of you are writers, or aspire to write, so I'll share with you something that we both agreed on. A lot of times when writers first get started, they joing a group, and they are just thrilled to be part of it...to be with others of similar interest. That's true for other groups besides writing.
It's hard sometimes to break ties and move on, but in writing especially, it is vital for a writer not to waste time in a group that doesn't suit their needs. For example, I joined a romance group and then found out that they mostly talked about reading romance, and gave homage to the one old lady in the area that had published something. That was okay for me at first. Then I saw and read a little of her work and thought...wow...I like pretty much all romance but hers. Not to mention one of her romances had been published in cookbook format with a plastic binder. Too weird. And no one that I have known ever since has said they actually like her work. But they literally bow down to her.
She's in her 80's. She founded the romance group 25 yrs ago. All hail to her. I'm fine with that--except when I started asking questions, I realized that in that 25 years, there were only two or three other romance published writers who had been in their group. What that told me is that the group was not one geared for helping its members get published in that genre.
So, I switched over to a mystery writer's group. It was great...I thought. Until the president moved out of town and the reins of the organization got passed over to another lady who didn't really write mystery or have serious plans of pushing others in that direction. For two years, the group went stagnant. Plus, because I am pretty self-motivated, I began to be looked at as a braggart--when every month you have a new publishing award or credit to announced.
Now, this is an important part of this post to me. First of all, in published writing, you have to be willing to toot your own horn. That is a hard thing to get used to. And, if you have an accomplishment, I want you to share it here so we can all cheer. Second, all awards and credits add together to show your professionalism improving--or that you haven't lost "your salt." Third, it should be an inspiration for those around you who are aspiring to accomplish in that area. Fourth, if you know someone who has done well in a genre that you aspire to write, you should be able to spot them (by those credits) and go and ask them for direction.
I could rattle on and on about writing groups. The real point is...it is easy to outgrow a group that once suited your needs. It is good to give back to a group, by helping others within it. But, realize when groups suck your writing time away. Or, if you're not a writer, how about your family time?
Realize where your priorities are. For me, my family comes first. Second is writing. Although it is hard to keep that in order sometimes when I get going good on a project.
Yesterday, I wrote 23 pages on a romance--that went south or something. So, I switched over to a sf story, and spent hours and hours on 10 pages--which I will probably scrap completely. So, it maybe a whole day wasted. I know that both of those had problems and that's why I stopped working on them. So, for today, I am hoping to re-center my focus on something, anything, and not switch off. Sometimes it is hard to delete a whole lot of hours of work.
So, I usually copy and paste over to a new piece, and keep the original...until I've finished something else altogether. Sometimes I change the names on the first draft and take the story in another direction.
Anyhow, as you can see...I ramble again.
Have a great day.
Posted by CarysWeldonblog ::
5:58 AM ::
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That was rambling? I thought you made some good points. :)
With our group here, for a while I felt like I had kind of outgrown it. True, everyone was still working toward publication for the most part. But there was something that was just a bit off. Then we got some new members in. One in particular used to be an editor at a couple houses in New York. Then she was a publicist. She moved back to this area to take care of her mom. So she has brought a lot to the group and I'm very glad she's here.
Tell me about this publicist. Have I met her?
Sometimes it takes new blood in to get a writer's group back on track.
I don't think you've met her. She's not been to an OWFI conference or to the one in Eureka Springs either. (Speaking of the OWFI conference, I'm not going this year, though I am entering the contest.)
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